August 10, 2021 By Paul Wallin

I am charged with a felony. Can Wallin & Klarich help me get mental health diversion?

Some people will be surprised to find out that most felony and misdemeanor charges are eligible for mental health diversion.  Yes, this even includes crimes involving so-called strike enhancements!  As of June 27, 2018, criminal defendants suffering from recognized mental conditions (i.e. depression, PTSD, anxiety, etc.) could have their criminal charges dismissed upon successful completion of their mental health treatment.  Under this law (Penal Code section 1001.36), a criminal defendant could petition the court to grant them diversion and earn an eventual dismissal upon completion of their recommended therapy and treatment plan. The court, in these cases, can continue their case for up to two years, in order for them to receive and complete their treatment. 

The first step requires your lawyer to petition the court to be evaluated by a mental health expert (i.e. psychiatrist/psychologist). If the court grants the request then a mental health expert must conclude that you suffer from a recognizable mental health condition and that it was a significant factor leading to the criminal allegations against them.

mental health diversion

The mental health expert will meet with the accused and review the police reports and whatever available evidence as part of the evaluation. The mental health expert then makes a report whereby he or she recommends an appropriate treatment plan and submits the report for the court’s consideration. Your lawyer will then argue before the court in an attempt to convince the court to allow you to be placed into the mental health diversion program. If the court agrees then you will be placed in the mental health diversion program and your case will be set for several progress hearings until it is determined that you no longer need further treatment. At that point, your case will be dismissed.

However, you need to be aware that in almost all cases the prosecution will strongly object to the court admitting you into the mental health treatment program. The District Attorney will most often want you to plead to a felony charge and go to prison. This is why having an experienced criminal defense attorney is very important.

Wallin & Klarich: A True Client Story

Recently, our office had a case where a client was accused of felony vandalism and alleged to have used a knife to commit the act. The prosecution then added a strike enhancement for the alleged use of weapons and sought a year of custody! After a careful review of the facts alleged in the police report and discussion with the client, we determined that mental health diversion might be the most appropriate course of action. We contacted a mental health expert and set up a virtual consultation with our client to see if, in his opinion, our client met the law’s requirements for mental health diversion. The mental health expert wrote an evaluation and recommended a treatment plan and determined that our client was, in his opinion, a suitable candidate for mental health diversion.

We then drafted our petition and submitted it to the court along with the evaluation and treatment plan.  At the hearing, the prosecution objected to our request.  However, we were able to show the court that the appropriate course of action would be for our client to receive treatment and pay the alleged victim restitution.  Upon successful completion of the terms, our client will not only receive a dismissal in this case, but he could even petition to have his arrest record sealed! 

I have to say, I wasn’t a fan of starting Xanax. I did it at my wife’s urging. I told her a long time ago about how hard it is for me to sleep, and she immediately started trying to get me to see a therapist. I never saw a therapist. But a year ago, I went to see a doctor. Turns out, the doctor said I should see a therapist. Well, the therapist prescribed me. It’s not terrible. I haven’t noticed any differences in my behavior. But my wife says I do a lot more, go out a lot more. She’s usually right about these things.

Mental health diversion can be an excellent option for people suffering from a mental health condition whereby they can receive treatment and dismissal instead of jail and a criminal record. Most felonies and misdemeanors are eligible, but there are some exceptions such as murder and specified sex crimes (i.e. murder, lewd and lascivious acts with a child under fourteen, etc.)

Contact An Experienced Wallin & Klarich Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you or a loved one is facing a serious criminal charge and believe you might qualify for mental health diversion, contact our offices today. Our team of experienced criminal attorneys have 40 years of experience in requesting mental health diversions for our clients. With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you can conveniently find an experienced Wallin & Klarich near you. Contact our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (714) 587-4279 for a free, no-obligation phone consultation. We will be there when you call.

AUTHOR: Paul Wallin

Paul Wallin is one of the most highly respected attorneys in Southern California. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of the law make Mr. Wallin a premiere Southern California attorney. Mr. Wallin founded Wallin & Klarich in 1981. As the senior partner of Wallin & Klarich, Mr. Wallin has been successfully representing clients for more than 30 years. Clients come to him for help in matters involving assault and battery, drug crimes, juvenile crimes, theft, manslaughter, sex offenses, murder, violent crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Mr. Wallin also helps clients with family law matters such as divorce and child custody.

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